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ASX's first week of 2021 ends on high note

Steven Deare
·4-min read

Investors have started ASX trade in 2021 with the best week in eight, but health experts may feel differently after a more infectious strain of COVID-19 that has wrecked havoc in the UK found its way into Australia.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index closed higher by 45.9 points, or 0.68 per cent, to 6757.9 on Friday.

The All Ordinaries closed higher by 43.7 points, or 0.63 per cent, at 7024.2.

For the week, the ASX200 gained 2.59 per cent, after investors saw the positives of the Democrats on Thursday clinching two key seats in the US Senate that will give them the balance of power.

US markets on Friday closed higher for the third consecutive day as investors focused on the greater economic stimulus they believe will come from President-elect Joe Biden.

Analysts reported an expectation of inflation from more stimulus payments being given to Americans, who would in turn drive demand.

Long term bond yields rose and commodity-based stocks climbed.

The ASX energy sector gained almost eight per cent for the week, while materials gained almost seven per cent.

Also helping energy stocks was Saudi Arabia's decision to limit oil output as more coronavirus lockdowns are expected from more infectious strains. Oil prices rose.

The ASX's weekly climb made AMP head of investment strategy Shane Oliver adamant global shares were vulnerable to a drop of about 10 per cent early in the year.

He said shares were over-bought.

"Markets generally have run pretty hard over the space of the last two months and the coronavirus continues to wreck havoc internationally and cause uncertainty in Australia," he said.

Yet investors were likely to have solid returns this year, Mr Oliver said.

The virus threat was prominent in Australia on Friday, as the nation ramped up defences against more infectious strains.

Brisbane will enter a three-day lockdown from Friday night after a cleaner at a quarantine hotel was diagnosed with one strain.

The number of people returning to Australia will be limited until February 15, and those returning will be tested for the more infectious strains before they board flights. Masks will be required on all domestic and international flights.

On the ASX, information technology was the top sector and gained 2.45 per cent. Afterpay rose 6.57 per cent to $116.00.

Healthcare rose 1.82 per cent. CSL gained 1.91 per cent to $280.25.

Materials lost less than one per cent, and the big miners set share price records.

BHP reached $47.15, then closed 0.49 per cent lower to $46.67.

Fortescue notched a share price record on each day of this week and reached $26.40 on Friday.

It closed lower by 2.24 per cent to $25.34.

Rio Tinto's record was $127.00. It lost 1.31 per cent to $124.01.

Accent Group, which owns the Athlete's Foot shoe stores and fashion stores Hype DC and Supra, reached a record high of $2.48.

The surge comes after Accent on Thursday said half-year earnings were expected to improve by up to 45 per cent on the same equivalent period.

The company had stronger than expected sales in November and December.

Shares closed higher by 4.68 per cent to $2.46.

In banking, Westpac was best of the big four and rose 1.45 per cent to $20.28.

Looking ahead, US jobs data for December is due in the next 24 hours.

Economists have forecast that employers cut back on hiring last month - and might even have shed jobs - with the economy under pressure from a resurgent virus.

The Aussie dollar was buying 77.78 US cents at 1724 AEDT, lower from 77.91 US cents at the close of trade on Thursday.

ON THE ASX

* The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index closed higher by 45.9 points, or 0.68 per cent, to 6757.9 on Friday.

* The All Ordinaries closed higher by 43.7 points, or 0.63 per cent, at 7024.2.

* At 1724 AEDT, the SPI200 futures was lower by four points, or 0.06 per cent, to 6693 points.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT

One Australian dollar buys:

* 77.78 US cents, from 77.91 cents on Thursday

* 80.78 Japanese yen, from 80.34 yen

* 63.40 Euro cents, from 63.21 cents

* 57.30 British pence, from 57.28 pence

* 107.02 NZ cents, from 106.94 cents.